What People Want and Need

This should have been posted April 13. But it wasn’t because of repeated Radio UserLand finicks.

And now the news:

Kate sent me one of the daily entries from Minnesota Public Radio’s "The Writer’s Almanac."
I like it. That’s an official endorsement, though be assured no money
changed hands for it. It’s a nice collection of daily trivia on
writerly stuff that wanders into historical stuff. The other day was
the anniversary of the opening of Galileo’s trial, so the almanac
contained a short essay on why Galileo mattered and still does.
Yesterday, or now the day before yesterday, the 13th, it was Thomas
Jefferson’s birthday. He was actually born on April 2 in 1743 — so I
count him as a birthday pal — but the date was moved when Britain and
the colonies ditched the Julian calendar for the Gregorian in 1752. No
extra charge for that information — I’ve always been fascinated by the
idea of a bunch of people having their birthdays changed.

But what I really wanted to write about was this note in the little almanac section on Eudora Welty, also born on the 13th:

 

"She tried getting a job in advertising but, she said, ‘It was too much like
sticking pins into people to make them buy things they didn’t need or really
want.’ "

 

So two things:

First, that’s why I think I am/would be no good at selling or promoting
or marketing stuff — goods, merchandise, services that you ought to
pay for if you want to be sated, satisfied, or successful. A voice
inside says, "You know, this is really in my interest, not yours, to
take this off my hands. And is it really as good as I’m telling you it
is? And is it what you need?"

But — and this is point two — I think the reason I’ve stuck to news or
things that closely resemble news is that I’ve always believed and
felt, mind and heart, that it’s something people really do need and
want. Still do, and that’s what makes the job fun still even if you
hear me whining.

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